KALAHI-CIDSS Inspires Women

A March 18, 2011 feature by the Department of Social Welfare and Development
“I grew up in poverty and I do not want my children to have the same life. I only finished high school, and my dream is for my children to finish their studies and find a good job,” Norma Espenilla of Barangay Mapuyo, Mobo, Masbate narrated.
Norma is a housewife with six children. Her husband is a farmer whose income is not enough to cover the family’s expenses for food, medicine, clothing and education. Norma believes that she must help in making both ends meet, yet her husband would not allow her to work, believing that men should earn a living and women should stay home and attend to the needs of the family.
Norma’s life changed when she attended the KALAHI-CIDSS Project or Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services community assembly. During the orientation, Norma learned that KALAHI-CIDSS is the government’s antipoverty program that envisions empowered Filipinos participating in governance.
The DSWD Region V KALAHI-CIDSS personnel and LGU officials discussed the objectives of KALAHI-CIDSS, which are focused on community empowerment and improved local governance. As she listened, Norma realized that nowadays, women should also be given equal opportunities, and a wife should not be confined at home but should also be given a chance to improve herself, interact with other people and participate in home and community development as well. KALAHI-CIDSS made her aware that she, too, has the potential to be a contributing member of her family and the community.
Norma learned how to negotiate. She talked to her husband who finally allowed her to work, provided that she will efficiently perform her role as a wife and mother. Instead of waiting for her children and husband to arrive at the end of the day, she used her idle hours productively. While her husband is out in the farm and her children in school, Norma would be in the market vending her husband’s farm produce, ensuring however, that she is home before her children arrive from school.
“KALAHI-CIDSS reminded me of my social responsibility and inspired me to do my best. I now know my own worth, and that I’m now capable of helping my family and community,” Norma enthused.
Norma now helps her husband in providing for their family’s daily needs. She keeps half of her husband’s farm produce for the family’s consumption. “My earnings are not much, but it’s a great help to our family, and I can also save for my children’s school expenses, so they can finish their studies.”
With KALAHI-CIDSS, Norma now actively participates in community activities. Through the community facilitator assigned in the barangay, Norma was taught how to make documentations of their assemblies and other activities. “I am happy that I have learned to help my barangay. I thank KALAHI-CIDSS for trusting women,” Norma proudly said.
The municipality of Mobo in Masbate is one of the target areas of KALAHI-CIDSS, covering 225 barangays and 45,284 households since 2003.
To date, Mobo has already conducted Municipal Inter- Barangay Forum (MIBF) for Criteria Setting Workshop (CSW). The MIBF for CSW is a mechanism wherein representatives from all barangays evaluate community problems identified by barangay volunteers, and after careful screening, agree on a set of development criteria for selecting which interventions should be prioritized for KALAHI-CIDSS funding.
With KALAHI-CIDSS’ continued implementation in the region, more women like Norma, who used to be “plain housewives” are now taking an active role in community development, thereby fostering a sense of dignity and self-worth, that they too “can make a difference.”